The big news in the battery-powered garden tools sector may be the advancing tech that allows for higher voltage tools. Battery voltage for weed eaters seems to be going to infinity and beyond. The weed eater that won my informal whack-a-thon was an 80 volt machine. 80 volt weed eaters break new ground in the “high voltage” string trimmer space. The evolution in cordless power tools in general has been marked not only by steady improvements in battery chemistry, but also by continual increases in the battery voltage these tools run on… from the first 4.8V cordless drills in the early 1960s, to the 18V cordless tools in the 2000’s, to the 20V+ cordless power tools of today. The first of these trimmers I purchased was a 20V unit. Soon after I learned there were 40V versions of the garden tools, then 60V versions, and finally I discovered the king of the hill 80V line.
Steve Bakker, Is It Time To Ditch That Loud, Polluting, Hard-To-Start, Smelly, Obnoxious Gas-Powered Weed Whacker?, CleanTechnica, September 23, 2018.
My experience with the ZF7.2 taught me that I could expect a reliable 60 miles per charge in mixed riding situations, and close to the full 100 when I rode around town exclusively.
The issue of range might be enough to scare off some potential buyers, but it shouldn’t. The FXS isn’t a touring bike, nor does it pretend to be one. It’s an exciting, lively bike for commuting, weekend rides, and quick hops. Leave it plugged in in your garage, and it’s always ready to go, with minimal maintenance required. You don’t have to worry about your gas going stale in the tank, or keeping track of oil changes, or gapping spark plugs. There’s no clutch to adjust, no cables to lubricate. The FXS has black composite body parts that don’t require wax or paint care, so you won’t need to spend hours detailing and polishing the bike. I really like the rough and ready aesthetic of the bike.
– Jason Fogelson, 2018 Zero FXS Electric Motorcycle Test Ride And Review: Charged Up, Forbes.com, September 17, 2018.
For two months this year I used a Zero DSR electric motorcycle as my main commuter vehicle. The experience deepened my appreciation for battery-powered transportation, and my admiration for the Zero line. But it also taught me that electric bikes aren’t for every rider, or for every ride. Even a state-of-the-art bike like the DSR could not satisfy all of a dedicated biker’s biking needs.
The DSR is Zero’s top model, and the company is right to be proud of it. Wickedly quick off the line, delivering spookily seamless power, the bike feels like a magic carpet ride that violates the laws of thermodynamics.
– Charles Fleming, Zero DSR electric motorcycle feels like a magic carpet ride — for everything but longer trips, Los Angeles Times, August 3, 2018.
Micah Toll wrote a great article at Electrek on two factors that threaten the longevity of lithium-ion batteries. While most people understand that high temperatures can shorten a battery’s life, probably a less recognized factor is high voltage. Much of Micah’s article sources a discussion by Professor Jeff Dahn of Dalhousie University where it’s claimed that “high charge levels result in extra performance for a few cycles, followed by a crash in performance and much faster deterioration of the cell”.
In the article Toll writes:
Next, you should aim to charge to lower levels when possible, especially if the car will be resting for a long period of time. While it may be comforting to see your battery meter read “100%”, your battery will be anything but comfortable.
It is important to note that the most damage from high charge levels comes from when the battery rests at such high levels for long periods of time. I’ve heard of many people who freak out after learning about the effect of high charge levels, with some swearing off 100% charging forever.
But 100% charging isn’t a big deal in small doses. If you are planning a long trip and will be heading out shortly after you finish charging, a 100% charge will have very little impact on your battery’s lifespan. However, if you will be leaving your battery unused for many days or weeks, a charge level of between 30-60% is much healthier for the batteries over the long-term.
So in summary, avoid heat and a long-term full charge on your lithium batteries. While some batteries will discharge on their own after so many days of storage, others you may need to discharge to a lower level manually if you have no plans to use the battery in the near future. I’ve seen some recommendations that for long-term storage a charge level of 30-60% is recommended, but some manufactures have suggested a charge level of 80% is acceptable for long-term storage of your lithium batteries.
I’ve included below Jeff Dahn’s lecture entitled, “”Why do Li-ion batteries die and can they be immortal?”
For the past couple years I’ve had an obsession with battery-powered cordless tools. While I’ve bought a number of cordless power tools and even a cordless snow blower…what has been missing in my garage is an all-battery lawn mower. For the past couple years, I’ve had my eyes on the EGO Power+ 56V Lithium-Ion Self-Propelled Mower.
The trigger for me to buy the EGO was Home Depot’s recent price drop of $100 on the LM2102SP mower which brings down the price from $599 to $499. There is some discussion whether this sale price is permanent or not. Last year, Home Depot’s “New Lower Price” dropped the mower’s price by $50 only to go back to its original price within a month or two. I never saw a lower price for the mower at Home Depot the rest of the year.
This year, I didn’t want to take a chance so I bought the EGO mower in March with South Dakota snow still on the ground. The salesman at Home Depot said this was the first mower he personally sold in the 2018 season. Needless to say, I have at least a month to go before I see enough green on the lawn for the first cut of the season.
Before I bought this mower, I was considering a few others based on reviews I found online. One mower I was considering was from the GreenWorks Pro 21-inch 80V line (although the self-propelled version is a hard find). I also considered the Lowes exclusive Kobalt 80V Self-propelled currently priced at $549 (and as far as I can tell is actually a GreenWorks under a different brand name). Another mower on my radar is the Yard Force 22-inch Self-Propelled Mower running on a 120V Lithium-ion battery. Unfortunately, the Yard Force mower is so new that with so little reviews and at a steep price, my wallet said “no”.
For those of you that aren’t comfortable with buying a mower with a “polymer composite” deck, you should consider taking a look at EGO’s 20-inch lawn mowers with a steel deck. Both the 21-inch and the 20-inch mowers come with a 5-year warranty on the mower and a 3-year warranty on the battery/charger. When the weather gets warmer, I plan to review my new EGO mower in detail.